My time in Cape Town has officially come to an end and I’m on my way back to Boston. It’s a bittersweet feeling as I am excited to head back home, but I will miss South Africa very much. This has been an unforgettable experience with so many amazing adventures. In the words of Caroline, “We’ve made more memories here than I can even remember!”
It should come with no surprise that our final weeks were filled to the brim with activities. We learnt how to surf, went to our first rugby game, and saw some of the big five at Aquila Animal Reserve. I also celebrated my 24th trip around the sun here in Cape Town and received some of the most thoughtful gifts ever from my new friends!
As part of our rotation with The University of the Western Cape we had the opportunity to work with Touching Nations in the Township of Delft. This is a group of home based carers that go home to home helping care for people in the community. In Cape Town everyone who is in need is provided home based care visits. This is very different than the US where mostly only the wealthy get at home health visits. However, these carers at Touching Nations are paid very little and have very little training.
During our time we went out into the township with these carers. I cannot put into words the amount of impact these women have on their community. It was amazing to see them work and truly help patients in need. These workers must walk many miles a day in a very unsafe area, but they were more than happy to because they knew they were helping people.
My fellow MCPHS students and I created an educational presentation for the home based carers to teach them about proper hand hygiene. We created pamphlets, had hands-on demonstrations, and quizzed them on what we had taught. The most important lessons we wanted them to take away was in which cases they can use hand sanitizer as opposed to soap and water, as well as their role in educating patients and making sure that the public also knows about good hand hygiene practices. This was the first module UWC is creating to improve Infectious Disease Control in the area.
For our final day in Cape Town we knew we had to do something amazing, and something we can’t do anywhere else. So we climbed Table Mountain, 3500 ft up, it was a lot harder than climbing Lion’s Head. After a few hours of climbing, and a lot of breaks, we made it to the top and celebrated our final victory in Cape Town. We were very grateful to take the cable car back down to the bottom.
As we travel back to America I just keep scrolling through the hundreds of pictures that we took during our time. Most of them don’t seem real, like something out of a movie. This has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I’ve learnt far more than I ever imagined and saw more than I could ever dream of. If you ever get the chance to travel to South Africa I cannot recommend it enough. It truly is a special spot on Earth and one that everyone needs to see at some point in their lifetime.